Fading Conventional Sociology vs Rising Digital Sociology

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By; Sher Zada

Though we come across surface definition of the subject Sociology is a scientific study of human social behavior, relationships, and institutions. However, many of people don’t consider that this is the subject encompasses a vast range of topics, including the examination of social institutions like family, religion, education, government, and economic systems.

Sociology studies how social class, race, gender, and other forms of inequality impact individuals and society, and analyzes the factors that drive social change, including cultural, political, and economic shifts.Sociology investigates how social structures and processes shape individuals’ thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, exploring the ways in which social psychology are impacted by these structures.

It studies population trends, migration patterns, and other demographic factors that impact society, as well as the beliefs, values, norms, and practices of different cultures and how they shape social behavior.Sociology also examines the social, cultural, and economic implications of globalization and how it affects different societies and cultures. It investigates various forms of social protest, resistance, and mobilization, including civil rights, feminist, and environmental movements.

As sociology covers a wide range of human folds, that’s why the era of evolution of sociology has been divided to two sphere i.e. conventional sociology, contemporary sociology. Conventional sociology typically refers to the early, classical form of sociology, which developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is characterized by its emphasis on grand theories, such as functionalism and conflict theory, and its focus on macro-level analysis of society. Where it covers the macro picture of society, that how the institutions do function and how they affect our society, where the conflicts arise due to lack of access to resources and have hands to control the power.  Conventional sociology is also known for its positivist approach, which assumes that social phenomena can be objectively studied and understood through scientific methods.

Contemporary sociology, on the other hand, encompasses a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, including both traditional and newer ones. It also encompasses a wide range of topics and subfields, such as race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, social stratification, and globalization, among others. Contemporary sociology is more diverse and pluralistic than conventional sociology, and it is characterized by a greater emphasis on micro-level analysis and interpretive approaches, as well as greater attention to issues of identity and power.

However, the scope and popularity graph of above two categorical dichotomies are being gradually limited to academia and traditionally written paper books written by classically trained authors, average writers and teaching faculties. The emergence of digital sociology has been reshaping every aspect of the subject matters covered by the former style of sociology, which has also been affecting the scope and directions of sociological analysis. Digital sociology is a relatively new field of sociology that emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the increasing prevalence of digital technologies and their impact on social life. The history of digital sociology can be traced through several key developments and milestones. Here, a brief sketch of elements which played roles to make sociology digital is presented.

The excessive use of internet and the development of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s and its rapid adoption by individuals and organizations marked the beginning of the digital age and set the stage for the emergence of digital sociology. In the mid to late 1990s, the study of online communities became a focus of interest for sociologists. Researchers began to explore how these virtual communities were formed, how social ties were established and maintained, and how they were influenced by the broader social context. The rise of social media platforms such as Facebook (Meta), Twitter, and Instagram in the mid-2000s transformed the landscape of digital sociology. Sociologists began to examine how these platforms were changing patterns of social interaction, social identity, and the formation of social networks. With the increasing prevalence of digital technologies, concerns about digital inequalities and the “digital divide” also emerged as a key focus for digital sociologists. Researchers began to explore how access to digital technologies and online resources was distributed across different social groups, and how these disparities were related to broader patterns of social inequality. The growth of digital data and the increasing use of algorithms and data analytics in decision-making processes also became an important area of study for digital sociologists. Researchers began to examine the social implications of big data, including issues related to privacy, surveillance, and social control.

Digital sociology although reshaping the conventional scope area of the subject matters, and this is a problem ofserious concerns for those who are attached with academia. However, the market is still not fully saturated; the flood of cyber world has opening new windows for all, including sociologists. Climate change and its impacts, rising conflicts, food insecurity, digital nomadism, biotechnology wars and several other problems are calling to be explored. However, zeal and passion are the only formulas that can keep one’s energies on the right track.